Our May pick is The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler. Trust me when I say this book is a roller coaster of emotions, feelings, and love!!! This week it’s my turn to host our Round Table Discussion.
1) Jude is the youngest of four sisters and has a hard time on occasion with her place (the baby) among them. As a sister (if you are one) how did you react to Jude’s interactions with her sisters? Any sibling revelations?
Kristina @ Gone Pecan: I’m both a sister AND the baby of the family so I completely related to Jude with her relationships with her sisters. To this day there are family events where if I don’t speak up I still feel railroaded in decisions, like a kid who can’t handle being told the truth or trusted with the responsibility of things. I know family always means well but I can see how Jude would have issues trying to stand on her own two feet and trying to build her own memories with her father, not wanting her siblings to “take” them away from her. It’s hard to be in a large family with so many dominate personalities and to carve out your own little corner.
Daphne @ Gone Pecan: Personally, I’m a little frustrated by Jude’s deferring to her sisters. I understand her respecting them, but there are times when she knows they’re hiding something from her and she just keeps her mouth closed. I couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to do that. These are your siblings, not co-workers or long distance relatives, there’s no need to be formal with them. If you have something to say, there really shouldn’t be anything holding you back just because you’re the youngest. Isn’t family the people we should be the most open with? I also understand from the older sister’s POV, that they still think of Jude as a child, as too young, but it’s her responsibility to stand up and say, “Hey, I can handle this, let me know what’s going on.”
2) Jude’s father is dealing with Early Onset Alzheimer’s and for the majority of the book Jude primarily takes care of him. Have you ever been in Jude’s shoes having to deal with a loved one with Alzheimer’s (or something similar)? What was your reaction to her father’s “episodes?”
Tee @ YA Crush: This was my absolute favorite aspect of the story (and that’s saying a lot because I was head over heels for that love story, too). Thank God I’ve not had a close relative battle Alzheimers or dementia or anything similar. Still, the relationship between Jude and her dad struck such a chord in me. I’m an only child and as such it’s pretty much a neccessity that I’m clse to my parents. They were my first friends, my playmates and the people who guided and loved me through everything. My father retired recently and I’ve been able to spend so much time with him Christmas shopping, going to lunch, watching him visit with my kids and attend school plays and award ceremonies–it’s a whole new facet in my relationship with him. I’ve always been close to him, other than those teenage years when we were more argumentative, but now I cherish him even more. I cannot imagine watching this man who was truly the first guy in my life, the one I measure everyone against, ever needing me to help him or comfort him. The idea of becoming caretaker to those who have taken care of us is so essential and natural and yet it’s so hard to iamgine with my own dad simply because he’s always been the one who takes care of me. He has all the answers; he makes everything right again, even now. In this book. watching the struggles Jude goes through as she sees her dad change, as she watches him in his confused state, as she sees him struggling to remember or feeling ashamed really broke me because I imagined it all as a daughter, not merely as a reader. In the same way, I loved as she watched her father remember his youth, how he captured her mom’s heart, how he fell in love with that motorcycle and it was magic, the same way it is when I hear stories about my own parents and their childhood. Sometimes you forget they were ever anything but your parents.
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA: I had to stop reading at several points whenever Jude’s dad’s Alzeheimer’s would flare up. My grandmother is currently going through the same thing now and it’s simply heartbreaking. It’s so sad when it happens in books or movies, but to see a loved one slowly deteriorate mentally is… well, heartbreaking. There’s really no other way to say it. Usually I’m not super affected by books, but this one seemed to hit a sore spot for me. I cried several times over Jude’s dad… not really because of what was happening to him, but because it reminded me of my grandmother’s condition. This was definitely one aspect of the book that really stuck with me and I feel it will for a long time.
3) One focus in the book is fixing Jude’s father’s old motorcycle, named Valentina, and listening to him reminisce about his motorcycle gang days. Does (or did) your father have anything like this that the two of you bonded over or he likes to reminisce about?
Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide: I may be bending this question to my willing, but I did want to talk about the motorcycle aspect of this book because it was actually a really big part of it for me! I never worked on cars or got old stories with my dad, but I LOVED the that Jude spend so much time with Emilio as he worked on the bike and he explains the process to her and sort of teaches her things as he goes along. That whole process was near and dear to me because my boyfriend Shane is a car & motorcycle guy, so a lot of times when he’s working on his projects in his garage, I’m right there with him. Sometimes just reading as he works, but other times handing him tools or asking questions because I always like learning about new things! While reading this book, I really felt like I was reliving those little moments and it was so special to me to get that feeling again. Shane is in the final leg of finishing up his big 70s show bike (it has a wicked paint job that his friend did — blues and greens and flake and all) and so that’s what Valentina reminded me of.
4) Throughout the summer Jude begins to separate from her BFFs Zoe and Christina due to spending more time with her family. What was your reaction to this?
Kristina @ Gone Pecan: It’s hard to watch because I went through a similar situation the summer after high school as well as this past year with other friends. Though Jude is spending more time with her family she isn’t doing it to spite her friends and being kids they can’t see that part of the problem. I think culture and how people were raised has a big part in this because though I was young the first go round and I’d like to think I’m still young now (30) but to me family comes first. It may mean less time with friends but I will do everything in my power to help my family in times of crisis. I wish Jude’s friends could have been more understanding to her situation because I know having their support would have meant the world to her and she could have used (other of Emilio) someone to talk to outside of the family with what she was having to deal with and how she was handling everything.
5) The Hernandez sisters (Lourdes, Mariposa, Araceli, and Jude) all add so much to the story. While we mainly focus on Jude, each of the sisters bring their own personalities and insight to the story. If there was a spin-off book for each sister, which would you want to read and why?
Daphne @ Gone Pecan: I would love to read an adult book about Mari. I personally had a tough time with her because she’s so forceful, but I liked her and think it would make for an interesting story if we follow her as she falls in love. It would be fun to see her come undone by a big love that challenges her and makes her question herself and what love really is.
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA: I would LOVE to read books about each of the sisters! I feel like Celi would be a great story. Of course Lourdes would be great too. Ohhh they’d all be fabulous!
6a) Our two MCs (Jude and Emilio) are both Hispanic/Latino and both their heritages shine through their language, families, and even food. Did this help to enrich the story for you?
Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide: The culture of Jude and Emilio’s lives and their family also helped me make a great connection with this book. Granted, I’m not Hispanic in anyway, but Spanish language was my major in college so I’ve been speaking, reading, writing in Spanish since I was 14 and learning about Spanish cultures since then as well (which may not mean much since I don’t use it a lot any more and my language skills have gotten kind of shaky). Although it’s not my own personal heritage, I do still feel that connection with the culture so I know some of the little traditions and when the characters slip into Spanish for a few words, I love being able to read it as a part of the text and not as a foreign language. I’ve read other books (who shall not be named) that have done a very poor job of incorporating culturally diverse characters and in those books, the characters seem very one-dimensional. It was SO well done in The Book of Broken Hearts that I swear, these characters are real people.
6b) What are some other races/ethnic/culture groups that you would like to see pop up as MCs more in books? Are there certain races/ethnic/culture groups that you’re drawn to or would like to learn more about?
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA: I don’t really ever seek out different groups when I’m looking for books, but I’m often pleasantly surprised when one that I might not be familiar with pops up in a book I’m reading. I’m a sucker for a Southerner in books, but that’s not really branching out (ha). I’d really like to see maybe Irish or Jewish groups in books. The few books that I’ve read that have characters who are Irish or Jewish have been interesting, but haven’t played a heavy role in the characters’ family dynamics, social whatever, etc. I’d also like to see a Catholic family in a book. I feel like I hound my Catholic friends all the time about how they were raised religiously.